Our Dutch correspondent H. Numan sends this informative explanation of the electoral reasons why the impact of Geert Wilders’ growing popularity will be postponed for a little while longer.
The revolution in The Netherlands will have to wait.
Allow me to elaborate: the Dutch parliament has 150 seats. In order to have a majority, a party needs at least 76 seats. This has never happened in the entire history of the country. Given the fact that the Dutch have a party for every day of the week (and then some more) every government has always been a coalition government.
The most stable coalition government has two parties, preferably one bigger and one smaller party. If the parties are more or less evenly matched, either party may try to dominate the other. This is happening right now. We have a coalition government between the conservatives (VVD, winner of the last elections) and labor (PvdA, runner up). At first labor was able to dominate the conservatives, but due to internal political problems they lost that advantage. Now the conservatives dominate labor.
Of course it’s not always possible to have a two-party coalition. The more parties are involved, the more difficult it is to form a cabinet and more likely that cabinet might have to resign prematurely. A coalition of three parties often doesn’t make it to the end, and coalitions of more than three parties usually don’t.
Size doesn’t really say everything: in 1977 labor obtained 53 seats — that’s the largest number of seats any party ever managed. Labor felt certain they would govern with that number. Only they didn’t. Another coalition was formed, to their utter regret they remained in the opposition. In a coalition government every party has to give a little in order gain a little with regard to their program. The PvdA was certain they would lead the government, so they demanded a lot and give almost nothing. It didn’t work.
Okay, that’s the backdrop. Formations of coalition cabinets are almost always very lengthy affairs. It can take over a year to form a government.
At this moment the PVV party polls at 30 seats. The coalition government polla at 28 seats. Both parties combined, no less. Only we aren’t having elections right now, and polls are like the weather; they change more quickly. Every politician knows very well we do have weekly polls, but only one poll once every four years really matters: the elections.
As all of you know, the PVV party is not exactly popular amongst other parties, to say the least. Geert Wilders is a very outspoken politician, and quite often ruffles the feathers of his colleagues the wrong way. It wouldn’t matter if he ruffled them right, because his message is not what they want to hear. Before him Pim Fortuyn had the same message, before Fortuyn it was Hans Janmaat, and before Janmaat it started with Boer (Farmer Koekoek). Boer (he really was a farmer) Koekoek was ridiculed and ostracized. Janmaat couldn’t be ridiculed, but he was tarred “neo-Nazi” instead. So much so, he had to become one, in order to keep at least some adherents.
Pim Fortuyn was at a very different level. He couldn’t be ridiculed, nor tarred a neo-Nazi. So he was executed. We know by whom: Volkert van de Graaf, who has been released from jail earlier this year and now lives comfortably in his home village of Harderwijk with his wife and daughter. Under police protection, one assumes, as he is not a popular person. We don’t know on whose orders Volkert acted. Just like Cluedo: plenty of suspects, all of them with a motive.
Boer Koekoek, Janmaat, Pim Fortuyn and now Geert Wilders are all bearers of bad news. That doesn’t make them popular in politics. The problems they all addressed are still there. Other politicians don’t have a real solution. So they prefer to ignore them, downplay the problems, or toss a bag of money at them. Hoping the problem will go away, or at least until something else diverts the electoral attention. So far, that has worked. But every time a bit less than before. A problem becomes more problems, and more problems become many dangerous problems. Ignoring them works less and less.
That’s why all those carriers of bad news became — had to become — far more outspoken. If you compare the latest three: Janmaat, Pim Fortuyn and Geert Wilders, the last is by far the most outspoken. Compared with Geert Wilders, Janmaat was a polite schoolteacher with moderate ideas. Now, Janmaat was tarred (and later became sort of) a neo-Nazi. What does that say about Wilders? In the eyes of politically correct Holland, he truly is Satan incarnate.
Of course all politicians call each other scum of the earth bent on the destruction of society. That’s part of their job. Only this vilification is much, much wider. Just about everybody making twice or more the average income would like to see Wilders on the dark side of the moon. The Netherlands doesn’t have any conservative media. None at all in the public system, and at best occasionally a minute bit of support from commercial media. That means ALL media: TV, radio, newspapers, opinion magazines; all of them.
It doesn’t stop there. The fourth power, civil servants, are firmly against the PVV. Not a few, but nearly all of them. Doesn’t matter what kind of civil servant you’re talking about. A couple of days ago the media discovered that about 85% of all civil servants are members of or at least vote for the labor party.
The courts are almost a mortal enemy of Wilders. He’ll be on trial early next year. It took them eight months to decide to prosecute him. By sheer coincidence, that decision was made when the cabinet almost collapsed, due to the Christmas Crisis.
Imagine this in the USA: the biggest party without any support in the media, educational circles (the PVV is particulary hated there), the courts (here even more) most higher government plus all non profit employees. Police departments are pre-printing complaints; you only have to mark the boxes you like and sign. Kind of difficult, what? Not really. Just imagine the Tea Party being consistently polling at +34%.
Many parties have openly set a ‘cordon sanitaire’ around the PVV party. That’s a polite French word for boycott. The only parties that have not joined that formal boycott are the VVD (conservatives) and 50Plus. The CDA party is divided on the issue; officially they joined the boycott, but since they would sell their wives, mothers and daughters to govern again, one might expect a change of heart. Now, look again at the list .
Doesn’t leave much room for a PVV government, does it? The only possible combination would be PVV-VVD-CDA, and that would not be a majority government. They would need another 10 seats. Next year’s elections are provincial elections, with results for the Senate. In Holland people are considered too stupid to elect senators. That’s so difficult, the Dutch are considered (barely) capable enough to vote in provincial elections. Those elected there will then elect senators. As you can expect, this highly democratic system tends not to favor opposition parties.
However, all hope is not lost. We witnessed the collapse of the Iron Curtain 1989, something most of us would have thought utterly impossible in 1986. We’ve seen the optimistic enthusiasm for a united Europe change into a dictatorial moloch, resented by most. Change will come, but don’t expect any soon.
What’s more likely is that polically correct Holland will encounter a fact they simply cannot ignore. For example, a major act of terrorism, the currency crisis worsening, or the UK resigning her EU membership.
Until that happens the PVV will be continue growing steadily.
— H. Numan
Previous posts about the trial of Geert Wilders, 2014-2015:
|2014||Dec||18||Geert Wilders to be Prosecuted|
|18||The Political Risks|
|18||Galileo in the Dock (Again)|
|19||A Grotesque Prosecution